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There seems to be lots of internet whining about how vacationing with kids is different from a spa getaway for two. Shocking, right? How, some families are unsure whether it’s going to be a fun family vacation, or a sucky one.

I read lots of “doom and gloom vacationing with kids sucks out loud” articles after we’d shelled out money for (nonrefundable) tickets to Greece for my family of 5. (Before you form a mental picture of us as jet set rock stars, just stop.  We live outside London.  Going to Greece is about as sexy as flying from Atlanta to Orlando). We wear sweaters in July; we gotta do what we gotta do to get some vitamin D.


Our family vacation did not actually suck, though.  Here’s 4 reasons why we had a fun family vacation:

Fun Family Vacation

I had low expectations

My goal for our vacation was: It’s not gonna suck.

The bar was low.  I had zero illusions of reconnecting with hubs, returning refreshed or any such bullshit.  Low expectations allowed me to focus on important stuff like not losing my kids (for more than 10 minutes, who’s perfect); and to not have the divorce talk when we got home.

I’m relaxing with a glass of wine post vacay.  All kids are accounted for and hubs and I are still speaking.  Barely, but there’s been no mention of the “C” word (by that I mean COUCH).


Travel wardrobes are overrated


I traveled light and didn’t buy crap

If you are flying, repeat these three little words:  carry. on. only.

It can be done.  When traveling by car, you can pack more crap, depending on your family and vehicle size.  Can does not mean should, people.

Just because you have room in your trunk does not mean you need to cram in the jumbo basket of Legos, a dozen naked Barbies, 3 tubs of Clorox wipes and enough food rations to sustain your family through natural disaster.

When packing, the following things are your friends:

  • Mix and match
  • Prints that hide ketchup, throw-up and Merlot (this is why I heart Lily Pulitzer)
  • Tide pens
  • Travel sized toiletries

I go pretty minimal with toiletry packing, especially during summer.  I’m as high maintenance as they come, but it simplifies things if I don’t spend a ton of time primping when living with 4 other peeps in a teeny tiny hotel room. In my makeup bag:  Hair elastic, toothbrush/paste, deodorant, lip gloss and flask of vodka.

This is all you need.  A good ponytail, shiny lips and a buzz are enough to make anyone feel pulled together, right?

In the event of unforeseen spillage, rinse clothes out in the sink (shampoo works fine, take a small baggie of detergent if you must).  It will be clean enough.

Don’t bring back crap.  Just don’t.  This may be a difficult habit to break if you already indulge your darlings with whatever souvenirs grab their attention.  Kids don’t need Sponge Bob water wings or that giant Minion balloon.  I’ll own up to indulging my kids with thrice daily ice cream on vacation (which does require reconditioning when we get home) but less crap simplifies things. Simple is easy. Say it with me.

I appreciated the small blessings

Vacationing with small children is freakin’ stressful.  Sometimes the universe will  throw you a bone.  Learn to recognize this and savor it. For instance:

  • The waitress who escorted my boys to pick out their own straws (why this was a big deal, I don’t know, but it was) allowing me to have exactly 73 blissful seconds alone with my coffee while hubs and daughter filled their plates at the all-you can-eat trough buffet (don’t you love those?). So what, she could have been a child abductor, but I went with my gut and enjoyed my sliver of quiet.
  • The TSA (or whatever passes for TSA in Greece) dude who expedited our family through security. Sometimes, there are perks to having two kids howling in stereo.  Someone heard my mental “for the love of Jesus” and made things happen.  Whether the TSA dude was telepathic or this was actually Jesus intervening, not sure.  But definitely learn to appreciate the small stuff.

I was able to “Let it Go”

Accept up front that something will go wrong.  Like this:

  • Having 30 minutes to eat breakfast and meet the tour bus and discovering your kid chucked his only pair of shoes off the fifth floor balcony in your hotel room, just because.

Breathe, channel your inner Queen Elsa and let that shit go.  And don’t forget the vodka from your toiletry kit.  Happy travels!

What fun family vacation have you been on? 

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Category: Guest Author

Tags: family vacation